Together with local French partner Atelier d’Urbanité Roland Castro and engineering firm WSP, Snøhetta has won the architectural competition for upgrading and modernizing the Boulevard de La Croisette in the Mediterranean city of Cannes.
The winning proposal “Spotlight” aims to refurbish the Croisette, giving back prestige and elegance to this world-famous waterfront promenade.
“We are both deeply honored and excited to have been entrusted with the further design of one of the world’s most renowned bay walks. The Croisette is the social backbone of Cannes. Its circular shape embraces the bay and creates a series of connections between the public, the city and the sea. Our design is a tribute to the inherent qualities of this iconic waterfront,» says Snøhetta’s co-founder Kjetil Trædal Thorsen.
World famous for the International Film Festival it hosts every month of May; the 2,6 km-long boulevard runs from the Palais des Festivals, all along the Bay of Cannes towards the Cap de la Croisette. The current design dates back to the 1960s, but the Croisette originates from the late 1800s when Lord Brougham first uncovered the beauty of the Bay of Cannes and settled there afterward.
Over time, the Croisette changed dramatically from the scenic coastal route it once was to the bustling boulevard it is today. It is punctuated by palaces, luxury stores and listed buildings on the city side, and by a variety of beaches on the seaside, from the public beaches to the most exclusive ones connected to the palaces.
The proposal will support Cannes’ ambition to enhance the Croisette to the status that it deserves, bringing back its prestige and its beauty to the standards that are expected for such an exquisite and iconic waterfront.
Open public space
Inspired by Art Deco, referencing the palaces of Cannes, Snøhetta aims to respectfully build on the great success of the Croisette, revamping the boulevard, making it greener, more open and accessible as well as providing new amenities and comfort.
Following the Croisette’s perfect circular shape, the proposal emphasizes on the regular repetition of stairs leading to the beaches, looking out to the Mediterranean Sea, creating an enticing and emotional rhythm.
A new urban red carpet
Acting as a new urban red carpet and reflecting the old Suquet neighborhood and the vivid red color from the nearby Massif de l’Estérel, a new paving is introduced. It creates a generous and shimmering waterfront that brings back the prestige of the legendary destination.
Snøhetta also introduces a series of “Spotlights” to highlight the main points of interest – the Palaces, the beach accesses, the Palais des Festivals. They create small plazas associating delicate golden details to the subtle nuances of red granite, enhancing the preciousness of the Croisette, worthy of its worldwide reputation.
Custom urban furniture
Snøhetta has also designed a collection of custom urban furniture including benches, lighting and shading specifically for the Croisette. To improve the comfort and safety of the users, soft benches emerge from the ground and echo the distant shapes of the Estérel. Shades and lighting influenced by the Art Déco history of Cannes are located all along the waterfront to increase the shaded areas and the well-being of the visitors.
The custom furniture pieces create a personal and recognizable language of objects for La Croisette.
The custom light poles arch over the boulevard at different heights and in different directions to create comfortable and safe light conditions at the places where it is needed to enjoy the boulevard in both day and night.
The long concrete benches provide a place for gathering and sharing a direct view on the water, and because of the gradual slope, can be used in different ways. Due to the placement, they naturally split the pedestrian flow from the vehicle flow.
The smaller concrete benches follow the same principle and are designed in modules to allow for more flexibility in how to place them in situations where there is less space or a need for a different configuration, while adding some safety to the promenade.
Increasing biodiversity, water management and green mobility
The project is developing an ambitious and holistic environmental strategy, increasing the presence of the vegetation along the promenade with species carefully picked from the Mediterranean palette for their climate resiliency and richness. This new layer of vegetation will also help reinforcing the biodiversity of the Croisette. In addition to the enhanced greenery, new water features will be introduced to complete the proposal in order to refresh the promenade.
The proposal also focuses on increasing green mobility for pedestrians and cyclists by creating a universally accessible promenade generating novel ways of enjoying the Croisette by introducing unique features fostering social interaction, creating an original experience. By reorganizing traffic lanes, the project aims to have a positive impact on public safety.
The project is divided into four distinct phases, running until 2028.